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Making agile working work for everyone - our research findings highlight four guiding principles

Agile working means taking a flexible approach to where, when and how people work. A more agile approach can help organisations accommodate different needs and circumstances, make the most of people's unique strengths and meet changing organisational goals.
Watch this video for more details. Summary information is available in this leaflet and poster.

Agile Working

Agile Working

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Take a look at this neat video agiLab created after undertaking research at the Civil Service. Some great tips on how to better manage your work-email. We've plenty of infographics and posters to go with this - let us know if you want these to use with your own teams

How to manage problematic email use
Delivering flexible working in practice: an agile approach

agiLab's director, Dr Emma Russell has written a new Digit Policy Brief on 'Implementing flexible working in practice: an agile approach'. You can download the document here and feel free share it with other decision makers in your organisation. 

Working well from home

The working well from home programme saw Emma collaborating with Fran Meeten and Faith Orchard in the school of Psychology to assist small businesses in East Sussex think about how to help people work well from home during and post-pandemic.

Rural and Urban Coworking

Coworking spaces are rising in popularity, as organisations seek to find ways of helping workers work in places more convenient to them, without experiencing the isolation and 'fear of being forgotten' (FOF) that home-working can sometimes engender. On the rise in both urban and rural centres, coworking spaces in different environments offer different benefits. Watch the videos below to find out more about how coworking can work for you.

Gary Bosworth's work on rural coworking 

Harry Pitts' work on urban coworking

Blog: Digital technology is changing how we work, we need new rights to match it

As remote working became common during the pandemic, there was an explosion of new digital tools to keep us connected and working.

In January 2020, Ofcom reported that just under 700,000 Brits were using Zoom. By April that had rocketed to 13 million people. Digital technology kept us together. But it also transformed how we are managed and work. Andrew Pakes, the Research Director at Prospects shares his thoughts on how digital technology is changing work here.

Book: Agile Working & Well-Being in the Digital Age

Agile Working and Well-Being in the Digital Age co-edited by agiLab's director, Dr Emma Russell

  • Provides an in-depth understanding of the growing phenomenon of agile working: ways of working more flexibly by utilising new technology, including e-working, to meet market needs, worker and organisational goals

  • Explores how wellbeing, personality, team working and management are involved in agile work

  • Offers researchers and practitioners evidence-based research to support the implementation of agile working in organizations

  • Considers the impact of technology on further changes to work practices in the future, and particularly in a new post-pandemic era of work

Mainstreaming Teleworking and Gender Equality: A Double-Edged Sword?

"...while teleworking has grown, there is evidence of the pandemic’s profound negative impact on women’s employment, setting back women’s career equality a generation. Compared to 2020, by the end of 2021, women remained 1.7 times more likely to be out of work than men; evidence of striking gendered labor market participation disparities. We argue in this essay, that the rise of teleworking is a double-edged sword with mixed consequences for women’s careers that need to be carefully managed."

More here   (Source OECD)

Clare Kelliher: The pandemic has prompted employers to review their benefits strategies

"Where it is difficult to recruit and retain staff, higher salaries may be a short-term solution, but in the longer-term the whole benefits package needs to be considered, including loyalty-based incentives that work with personal circumstances and aspirations. Relationship-building by line managers in particular will be needed to sustain a committed and productive workforce."

More here    (Source Employee Benefits)

Why we need to make part-time work

Research shows part-time working could solve HR’s most pressing issues, according to Professor Clare Kelliher and Dr Charlotte Gascoigne at Cranfield School of Management, and Claire McCartney, the CIPD’s Senior Policy Adviser on resourcing and inclusion.

"Our research showed that the enforced experiment in using part-time working to access flexible furlough challenged many managers perceptions and demonstrated to them that part-time working is a feasible option for many more roles than had previously been imagined. What’s needed now is the toolkit of skills among managers to deliver the opportunities – and in doing so, unlock the full range of benefits that true working hours flexibility will bring to employees, employers and the UK labour market overall."

More here   (Source: CIPD)

Five ways to make part-time working easier and more available, according to new research

"The research that we conducted into the implementation of the furlough scheme uncovered some important unintended – but positive – consequences. First, almost 40% of participants in our study reported that using the flexible furlough scheme helped managers learn how to design and manage part-time working more effectively. And second, just over 40% said the experience of using the flexible furlough scheme made line managers more open to part-time working requests from employees and potential recruits."

More here   (Source: The Conversation)

Hybrid working: 7 tips for employers navigating the post-pandemic world of work

"In the past, flexible workers were in the minority, and remote workers even more so. But now we have the benefit of having experimented with these ways of working – whether we wanted to or not – and having had to make it work. In many instances, what was deemed impossible has become possible.


This is an opportunity that we cannot and must not squander. Let’s get this right. Future generations of workers will thank us for it."

More here     (Source: Cranfield University)

Part-time working after the pandemic: The impact of the flexible furlough scheme

"Using the flexible furlough scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic was effectively an experiment in part-time working for many employers, particularly those who had not used part-time working previously, or only for a limited range of jobs.

New research found that through using this scheme employers:

  • Learned how to manage part-time working more effectively

  • Became more open to offering part-time working opportunities"

The research project was led by Professor Clare Kelliher, with Dr Charlotte Gascoigne and Dr Pierre Walthery and funded by the ESRC. More here    (Source: Cranfield University)

Research Article: 4 day Week Global Pilot Programme

The pilot was a coordinated, 6-month trial of a 4 day week, with no loss in pay for employees. The program was coordinated by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University, together with local researchers in each region. To learn more and to read the free research report, click here.

Podcast Series: The Future of Work Podcast

The Leeds University Business School podcast explores the future of work and is hosted by Faculty International Manager, Ellen Wang, and Careers Consultant, Marc Steward. The series explores various key themes surrounding the working environment, inviting business school alumni, academics, and industry experts. They cover topics such as how AI impacts recruitment, hybrid working, and what skills we may need for the future. You can find all episodes here

Research article: Out of the Panopticon and into Exile: Visibility and control in distributed new culture organizations

This paper builds a theoretical argument for exile as an alternative metaphor to the panopticon, for conceptualizing visibility and control in the context of distributed ‘new culture’ organizations. Such organizations emphasize team relationships between employees who use digital technologies to stay connected with each other and the organization. I propose that in this context, a fear of exile – that is, a fear of being left out, overlooked, ignored or banished – can act as a regulating force that inverts the radial spatial dynamic of the panopticon and shifts the responsibility for visibility, understood both in terms of competitive exposure and existential recognition, onto workers. As a consequence these workers enlist digital technologies to become visible at the real or imagined organizational centre. A conceptual appreciation of exile, as discussed in existential philosophy and postcolonial theory, is shown to offer productive grounds for future research on how a need for visibility in distributed, digitized and increasingly precarious work environments regulates employee subjectivity, in a manner that is not captured under traditional theories of ICT-enabled surveillance in organizations. The full article is here

Research article: Microsoft New Future of Work Report 2022

Due to the “Great Remote Work Experiment” that began in March 2020 when workplaces around the world rapidly shut down, work is changing faster than it has in a generation. As many people now return to the workplace and begin to experiment with hybrid work, a range of different outcomes is possible. Thankfully, researchers at Microsoft and from around the world have been investigating evolving hybrid work practices and developing technologies that will address the biggest new challenges while taking advantage of the biggest new opportunities.​ This Microsoft New Future of Work Report 2022 summarizes important recent research developments related to hybrid work. It highlights themes that have emerged in the findings of the past year and brings to the fore older research that has become newly relevant. Our hope is that the report will facilitate knowledge sharing across the research community and among those who track research related to work and productivity. This research area is unfolding as rapidly as work is changing, and the purpose of this report is to help the community build on what has been learned this past year.​ Never before has there been such an opportunity to actively shape the future of work. With research and careful study, we can create a new future of work that is meaningful, productive, and equitable. The full article is here

New resources on home working

Have a look at these publications if you are interested in improving home working life, and working 'smartly'.

The Agile Organisation
Research article: The Fatiguing Effects of Camera Use in Virtual Meetings:
A Within-Person Field Experiment

When the global workforce moved en masse to working from home, many organizations leaned heavily into virtual platforms with video call capabilities (Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams) to replace face-to-face meetings. While such meetings offered a chance to maintain social connection in a time of social distance, a few weeks into remote work, “Zoom fatigue” and “virtual meeting fatigue” entered our vernacular, capturing the feeling of fatigue and exhaustion that comes from being stuck in an endless cycle of virtual meetings.

Little research, however, attempted to isolate and understand the impact of the video camera itself on Zoom fatigue. How much does having your camera on contribute to your level of fatigue? Should you keep your video camera on or off? More details here and the study paper is here

Zoom fatigue
Research article: Understanding constant connectivity to work: How and for whom is constant connectivity related to employee well-being?

An interesting paper examining the effects of constant connectivity for employees by focusing on how and for whom constant connectivity might be related to employee well-being. Additionally, organizational-level antecedents of constant connectivity are investigated. (

The Agile Future Forum

Our ambition is to define the business value of workforce agility in supporting the competitiveness of UK plc and provide the leadership and practical support required to increase agile working practices across UK plc.

The Work Foundation

As the pace of economic change continues to disrupt the ways we work and do business, our mission is to support everyone in the UK to access rewarding and high quality work and enable businesses to realise the potential of their teams. To do this, we engage directly with practitioners, businesses and workers, producing rigorous applied research that allows us to develop practical solutions and policy recommendations to tackle the challenges facing the world of work.

Research article: Evaluation of a novel intervention to reduce burnout in doctors-in-training using self-care and digital wellbeing strategies: a mixed-methods pilot

Burnout for doctors-in-training is increasingly cause for concern. Our objectives were to assess the feasibility, acceptability and impact of a novel intervention to reduce burnout and improve wellbeing. This is the first wellbeing intervention for medical doctors to include strategies for work-life boundary management and digital wellbeing.

Majority of employers seeing presenteeism in their workforce, report finds

Experts urge businesses to take preventative action to support wellbeing, as CIPD research shows home workers are worst affected.

The problem isn’t remote working – it’s clinging to office-based practices

This is what we should be asking ourselves: if 9-5 had never been invented; if “office” were a foreign term; if the concept of a meeting sounded like gibberish – in short, if today were day one of the history of work – how would you design how you work?


Interesting article by Alexia Cambon on the Guardian

New trends in Rural Co-working

A recent online workshop hosted by Northumbria University and attended by over 50 coworking operators, policy-makers and researchers has revealed a number of interesting working trends that are likely to shape the future of rural communities. More details here

Research article: Tired of email? Examining the role of extraversion in building energy resources after dealing with work-email

Office-based work today involves dealing with email, despite being denigrated and lauded in almost equal measures. Using the Conservation of Resources theory we examine whether Extraversion (expressed through two facets) acts as a resource to explain the differential impact that work-email has on people’s energy resources (relating to fatigue and boredom). More details here

The Difference between Agile Working and Flexible Working

For years the two terms have been used in a rather arbitrary way. This had led to confusion and not benefited the management of modern workplaces. The dictionary meaning of flexible is adaptable, variable, or easily persuadable, tractable. Not the same as agile which evokes speed – rapid adaptability.

What Great Mentorship Looks Like in a Hybrid Workplace

In a time of incredible change, professional disruption, and overwhelming loneliness, mentorship can anchor us. But how do we mentor in a remote, distributed workforce?

Research article: The work-habits intervention model: A 12-month study to change work-email habits

We present a Work-habit Intervention Model (WhIM) to explain and predict how to change work-habits to be more effective. The WhIM was evaluated in a 12-month wait-list intervention study designed to improve work-email habits for workers in a UK organization (N = 127 T1; N = 58 T3; N = 46 all data). Findings were that the two-stage process changed work-email habits for those with higher levels of self-efficacy, which predicted well-being in terms of reduced negative affect (via perceived goal attainment). More details here

HR: getting smart about agile working

Organisational agility is critical to business success. It has the potential to offer organisations practical solutions to meet the evolving needs of their workforce, as well as controlling operational costs and finding competitive advantage in greater customer focus and innovation. 

The findings of this research are based on a survey of HR leaders, an employee survey, focus groups and case study illustrations.

The Real Value of Middle Managers

Middle managers have long had reputations as ineffective or weak supervisors. But research shows that, in fact, they’re often the people that make an organization run smoothly between hierarchies. Especially today, as companies become more reliant on virtual modes of management and communication, investing in these managers as “connecting leaders” is vital. To do so, focus on four key types of connecting leaders and their associated practices. There are rewards and challenges for each; but successfully addressing them can help make your business more successful coming out of the pandemic. More at:

Technology is changing how we talk to each other

Zoom, Facebook, group text messages: This past year, technology has sometimes felt like the glue that’s kept many of our relationships alive. More and more, we talk to each other with technology in between us. Jeff Hancock, PhD, director of the Social Media Lab at Stanford University, discusses how this is affecting human communication, including whether people are more likely to lie online, whether the versions of ourselves that we present on social media are authentic, how artificial intelligence infiltrates our text messages, why video calls exhaust us more than in-person conversations, and more.

The podcast epsiode is here:

eWorkLife podcast series

The eWorkLife podcast series offers long-form conversations with academics and thought leaders, on how technology can help and hinder us in managing our work and wellbeing. These tell personal stories of career journeys that demonstrate a common theme of just how unplanned an academic career often is, including failures, as well as successes. My guests describe the roots of their research interests, how these have evolved and what inspires their work today. We also explore the insights they have gained into the design and use of technology, both to gather data and create interventions, and give practical hints and tips about how we can take control of our digital technology to thrive.

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